Advance Notice: Briefs

Whitmer, Huizenga hail Great Lakes funding restoration request

By: - May 15, 2019 3:15 pm

Sleeping Bear Dunes | Susan J. Demas

On a Michigan campaign stop in March, President Donald Trump promised he wouldn’t slash funding for the Great Lakes after all, after proposing to do so in his budget request.

That came after his initial 90-percent cut to the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) was widely criticized by a bipartisan collection of Great Lakes-area officials.

This week, Trump sent a notice to Congress that he had added the $270 million back for the initiative. He’s also proposed the cuts in previous budgets, which Congress has ignored.

U.S. Rep. Bill Huizenga (R-Zeeland) told the Advance during Trump’s visit that he U.S. Rep. John Moolenaar (R-Midland) and U.S. Rep. Jack Bergman (R-Watersmeet) all talked to Trump about the need for the Great Lakes money.

Bill Huizenga

“Look, we made the case [to Trump],” Huizenga said. “Bergman, Moolenaar, myself, in a concentrated time [we were] able to make the pitch. I was thrilled he [Trump] responded the way he did.”

This week, Huizenga thanked Trump on Twitter for “fulfilling your promise to prioritize the protection of the Great Lakes,” adding that the program “helps both the economy & the ecology.”

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer led a group of five Great Lakes governors who wrote a letter to the president advocating for the funding. The other governors were Tony Evers of Wisconsin, Tom Wolf of Pennsylvania and J.B Pritzker of Illinois. The letter said Trump’s GLRI cuts would “cost our states thousands of good-paying jobs, hurt our tourism and recreation industries, and jeopardize public health.”

Gov. Whitmer and Lt. Gov. Gilchrist
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist in Flint, April 25, 2019 | Nick Manes

On Wednesday, Whitmer cheered Trump’s decision but said it “shouldn’t have taken this long” for such an important priority.

“This announcement is good news for our economy, our families, and the future of our Great Lakes, but it shouldn’t have taken this long to secure funding for the world’s largest body of fresh water,” she said in a statement. “I was glad to be joined by a bipartisan group of governors in our joint letter calling for President Trump to restore this funding because protecting the Great Lakes is a bipartisan issue. If we’re going to continue to call our state ‘Pure Michigan,’ we must ensure that this funding continues in the future, and I’m willing to work with anyone who wants to get it done.”

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Susan J. Demas

Susan J. Demas is a 21-year journalism veteran and one of the state’s foremost experts on Michigan politics, appearing on MSNBC, CNN, NPR and WKAR-TV’s “Off the Record.” In addition to serving as Editor-in-Chief, she is the Advance’s chief columnist, writing on women, LGBTQs, the state budget, the economy and more. Most recently, she served as Vice President of Farough & Associates, Michigan’s premier political communications firm. For almost five years, Susan was the Editor and Publisher of Inside Michigan Politics, the most-cited political newsletter in the state. Susan’s award-winning political analysis has run in more than 80 national, international and regional media outlets, including the Guardian U.K., NBC News, the New York Times, the Detroit News and MLive. She is the only Michigan journalist to be named to the Washington Post’s list of “Best Political Reporters,” the Huffington Post’s list of “Best Political Tweeters” and the Washington Post’s list of “Best Political Bloggers.” Susan was the recipient of a prestigious Knight Foundation fellowship in nonprofits and politics. She served as Deputy Editor for MIRS News and helped launch the Michigan Truth Squad, the Center for Michigan’s fact-checking project. She started her journalism career reporting on the Iowa caucuses for The (Cedar Rapids) Gazette. Susan has hiked over 4,000 solo miles across four continents and climbed more than 70 mountains. She also enjoys dragging her husband and two teenagers along, even if no one else wants to sleep in a tent anymore.